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Surfin’: AM DXing with an iPhone

01/11/2013

By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor

This week, Surfin’ adds an antenna “booster” and an iPhone to the AM DXing tool kit.

I received two tech gifts during the holidays: a C. Crane Twin Coil Ferrite AM Antenna Signal Booster and an iPhone 5. I am very pleased with both gifts and thank my family (you know who you are) for their generosity.

The C. Crane Twin Coil Ferrite AM Antenna Signal Booster is, in its own way, as amazing as the iPhone. I am having a blast, chasing AM broadcast stations with it connected to the C. Crane CCRadio-SW that I bought on sale at the Dayton Hamvention. Believe it or not, using the C. Crane antenna booster indoors beats the pants off the outdoor wire antenna I had previously been using.

For example, one late Saturday afternoon, I was listening to WWKB from Buffalo, New York, on 1520 kHz. All I could hear was WWKB on the outdoor antenna, but on the indoor antenna booster, I could hear a weaker station under WWKB. Turning the antenna booster about 90 degrees nulled out WWKB and I caught WCHE in West Chester, Pennsylvania, just as it was signing off. When The Star-Spangled Banner ended, I heard an even weaker station on 1520: WTHE in Mineola, New York.

And now my iPhone 5 is part of my AM DXing mix!

Anyone who knows me knows I am not a big fan of the telephone, so it should come as no surprise that this iPhone is my very first cell phone. I have made only two calls since receiving the phone. The iPhone’s computing capabilities were what attracted me.

Naturally, I searched the App Store for iPhone ham radio applications and found an impressive 135 “Amateur Radio” applications -- and an even more impressive 195 “ham radio” applications. Among the finds was an app called AM Search.

Yoshi Murakami, AF6GP, wrote the 99-cent app that manipulates a database of all the AM broadcast radio stations in the US and areas of Canada and Mexico. The manipulation of the database provides an excellent AM DX tool. For example, if I hear something on 920 kHz, I scroll to 920 on the app and find a list of the stations closest to me on that frequency: WGHQ, WHJJ and CBO. In addition to the station call sign, the app indicates the station’s transmitting power, its location and its program format.

If I tap “920,” the list expands to include all the stations on that frequency and adds the station’s compass direction and distance (in both kilometers and miles) from my location.

How cool is that? All the app needs is a logging function to make my day complete!

Yoshi has another 99-cent app called FM Search, which is the FM radio broadcast station equivalent of AM Search.

Until next time, keep on surfin’!

Editor’s note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, seeks the unusual in radio. To contact Stan, send e-mail or add comments to the WA1LOU blog.

 



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